This September the University of Leipzig is making a bold move: Over three full days, from September 14th to 16th the department has organised the first cross-epochs academic conference on the Grimoire tradition: 'Books of Magic – Words of Magic – Cultures of Magical Knowledge from Antiquity to Modern Times'.
Join me on a virtual exhibition tour and discover the curious artefacts of European folk-magic: skulls to swear by, relics to be mixed with your food, and crowns to be worn by the corpse. Upon closer examination we'll find many surviving ties between the pragmatic folk-rites of our ancestors and the old Grimoire tradition of the West.
In a not at all metaphorical sense JSK’s final double volume is an expedition into the ancestral blood-ties of this famous sorcerer-saint. To embark on it is to encounter Cyprian the Mage. Not only as the hero of an ancient polemic against the last surviving pagans, but more importantly as a still present inner contact, a powerful spirit in its own right.
Everyone of us is forced to learn how to live life before we die. What as a toddler seems like constant play and discovery over the years turns into a raw and essential struggle. A struggle for one's own place in this maddening world. A struggle for a clear image in that mirror of knowing who we have become. A struggle of balancing what we want for ourselves with what we want to be remembered for by others. The difference for magical adepts lies in a simple choice. It lies in the choice that on top of learning how to live life they also choose to learn how to die before dying.
(...) Now, to make this project happen everyone's contribution is required. Whether you want to help through pre-ordering your copy now or instead through a crowdfunding donation - every little helps! This project has been carried for years by very few people, they have brought it a huge way - and so close to its realisation. I truly hope in the next 21 days we can bring it over the finishing line jointly.
(...) Magical paraphernalia are like four-dimensional recordings of a ritual event. Think of a sacred space filled with a handful of such implements - and now switch positions and look through the eyes of the spirits: Can you see how incredibly busy and noisy this place is? Because from the spirit’s viewpoint these implements, these material tools of spiritual recordings, are in constant playback mode. Without ever stopping they express the rhythms, utterances, forces and living beings recorded into them.
Looking from the outside in one could come to the conclusion that by the late 15th century ritual magic had degraded into a mummified, fractured and fallen version of a once golden antique past. Sigils, circles, recipes and barbaric names were copied from manuscript to manuscript and seemed to lose more and more of their original and integral meaning each time a scribe put their hand to them. Ultimately the genre was perceived to degenerate to a cryptic extravaganza, a marginal phenomenon within a dark and largely unchartered ecclesiastic subculture. (...)
(...) Most importantly, however, we can now see the lay of the magical land towards the end of the Middle Ages: By no means was the ‘renaissance of magic’ a rebirth of magic, i.e. the revival of a tradition interrupted since classical times and only preserved in Greek or Arabic source texts. The magical tradition towards the end of the 15th century was well and alive. Yet, its blood pulsed through veins hidden from the public eye.
(...) Magic as such didn't hold its own category but rather presented a particular view of the world - including a broad array of spiritual practices that could be applied to any subject. Thus treatises on e.g. precious stones could be written from a magical point of view as could be treatises on certain diseases, agricultural rhythms or even astrology itself. Broadly speaking, magic was not a matter of subject but of perspective. It was precisely this fluid nature that made it incredible hard to confine for medieval authorities - and still makes it incredible hard to track down for modern day researchers. A treatise providing instructions on certain 'magical practices' could be bound into literally any sort of codex.
(...) In short, we have to let go of our own inner compass of judgement, of the things we like to take for granted, when trying to understand the lives and motives of our forefathers several hundreds years ago. Just as people looked and smelled differently, so they also felt differently, thought differently and appreciated things in very different ways from us today. Modern day gut feel thus is a terribly bad tour-guide to explore our ancestors' actual living realities.
(...) At the turn of the 16th century Agrippa of Nettesheim was a young man of fourteen about to immerse himself into a life weathered by more storms than many of us could imagine today. For decades already these storms had been gathering forces over the continent. Now they were about to unfold on what we have come to know as Europe today, overthrowing and changing the very foundations of society as people had known it and never questioned it for centuries....
It's been several years now that I have been researching on the history of magic in the German speaking countries. It all began with the simple question of how our tradition of Western Magic looked before the time of the GD - especially in Germany, a country where much of their work was published only much later and which was once home to the Rosicrucians movement. The in-depth study On the Order of the Asiatic Brethren which I shared in five parts in mid-2014 was a first result of this research. It focusses an often overlooked strand of our tradition in the 18th century (...)
Josephine and I have been collaborating on various magical projects for several years now. A side effect of this partnership is that I receive wonderful lessons from a true adept and she gets a brick wall to bang her head against. Or almost. At least it's fair to say that initially our approaches to magic were diametrically opposed: Josephine teaching a very organic, though incredibly pragmatic approach to visionary magic - and me having just emerged from more than a decade of rigorously structured ritual work and occult philosophic studies. So when we first met it could have easily been the perfect clash of paradigms. Yet, it turned out to be the opposite.
Well, I should warn you - this might be the most foolish post I shared yet. For one, because the two reports of magical experiments from the 1920s which I have translated for you don‘t shed a very positive light on our art and ancestors. In fact, they are probably amongst the worst examples of how to practice magic. As so often the anonymous magician involved seems to have held sufficient half-knowledge to be dangerous - dangerous all at the same time to himself, to his scryer, to the beings he worked with as well as to his own cat.
Recently I shared the account of the sixth ritual in the Arbatel cycle, the rite of the Olympic Spirit of Bethor. Performing this ritual was an eye opening experience on many levels. Not at least because it was the first Grimoire-related ritual I performed simultaneously in vision and in ritual. Being able to witness the magical tides and dynamics from both sides was a completely different experience to any of the previous Arbatel rites.